Monday, July 18, 2011

Rural Outreach Services for North Hawaii Residents

The Rural Outreach Services initiative will hold its official opening at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center (NHERC) on Thursday, July 21, 2011 starting at 10:00 a.m. The public is invited to attend and to learn more about the services provided.

Rural Outreach Services is a public/private consortium of agencies that provide a wide range of needed services for the community on a rotating basis. The purpose of the initiative is to make it more convenient or even possible for residents to receive services without having to drive long distances to Hilo or Kona. Services include employment counseling, job seeking strategies, assistance with online registrations, low income and energy assistance, housing services, youth tutoring and mentoring, eldercare assistance, long-term care assistance, college programs and application assistance, financial aid, small business solutions, veterans services and more. For many people, the improved access to critical services will have a great impact on their quality of life.

Governor Neil Abercrombie is expected to attend the opening, making good on the claim that his administration will not be "Oahu-centric". The Governor has been instrumental in ensuring participation by state agencies.

"Rural Outreach Services is an initiative that will turn lives around," said Rep. Mark Nakashima, a member of the coordinating committee, who also sits on the advisory board for NHERC. "Because of the long distances that people need to travel on the Big Island, many residents have not been getting the services they need, whether it be job-related, housing, or even healthcare."

"Our initial challenge was to bring the agencies together to establish a working schedule of volunteer services," continued Nakashima. "Now our goal is to make sure that the community is aware of the availability of these services, and the more they take advantage of the program, the more resources we will be able to provide for the future."

The organizations that are participating in the consortium include the University of Hawaii at Hilo – North Hawaii Education and Research Center, the Department of Labor – Workforce Development Division, Hamakua Partners in Elder Care, Kapulena Land Project and the Department of Education – East and West Hawaii Community School for Adults.

Other agencies volunteering their services include Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, US Department of Labor – Veterans' Employment & Training Service, Hawaii Community College, Services for Seniors, Hawaii Adult Day Care, Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network, Hawaii Center for Independent Living, Arc of Hilo, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, and Office of Veterans' Services.

The participating agencies are available on a rotating basis on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with plans to increase days and times in the future. For more information or a schedule of upcoming services, contact the North Hawaii Education and Research Center at 775-8890.

View the link to the Rural Outreach Services calendar at

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